Reading Rockets (13-5) will return to NBL Division One action this weekend when they take on Loughborough Riders (10-5) on Sunday afternoon, 2pm tip-off. The Reading team missed out on the first piece of silverware last weekend when they were beaten 90-67 by Team Solent Kestrels in the National Cup Final so will be looking to bounce back in league play and keep up the pressure at the top of the table as they push for a top four finish.
Sunday’s meeting between the two teams will be the second of the season with Rockets taking their home game in comprehensive fashion, winning 93-70 back in October. Since that match-up, Rockets have lost American AJ Carr through injury but gained British forward Leome Francis whilst the Riders have added former junior Rocket Harrison Gamble to their line up alongside Jonas Dieterich who re-joined the East Midlands outfit after a spell in the first team with Leicester Riders.
Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane was understandably disappointed to see his team defeated in the National Cup but was very proud of his younger players stepping up and knows this will be necessary again this weekend. The Irishman said,
“We have really enjoyed our cup run and although we are disappointed not to win the competition, I am very proud of my team for the way they performed but now we are excited to get back to league action and chase a top four finish.”
“A very positive step this weekend was how our EABL (Elite Academies Basketball League) players stepped up and showed us they are ready for that next level of play and it is more than likely we will need them again this weekend with the injuries we currently have.”
“Loughborough are one of the best teams in the division and have bolstered their roster since we last played them. They play a good brand of basketball and are very well coached so it will be a tough trip there to gain a win and keep up the goal of finishing in the top four but I know the players are hungrier than ever to keep performing to the best of their ability with what we have as a group.”
Rockets go in to Sunday’s game with two major injury concerns and a notable absence. Spanish duo Matias Boho and Pau Mayor both missed out during last Sunday’s National Cup final defeat to Solent and are a big doubt for the match-up against Loughborough. 6’5 forward Boho Sayo is currently sidelined with knee ligament damage whilst 6’3 guard Mayor has an achillies issue and it is unknown when either player can return to action. Co-captain Ed Potter, who pulled down 13 rebounds in the National Cup final, is also unavailable for this weekend’s encounter but in better news for the Berkshire outfit, Leome Francis comes back in after being cup-tied last weekend and the 6’5 forward will make his away debut for the Reading team after his first outing at home with a 28 point 17 rebound double double. Academy players Ross Stepney and Kivuvu Live made significant contributions last weekend with Coach Keane likely to call upon his youth once again as Rockets go in search of win number 14 of their 2019-2020 campaign.
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